The industries department of the Government of Kerala has announced a reward of Rs 10 lakh who can invent a coconut-picking machine. According to this report from the BBC, the reward is open to anyone in the world who can create a machine that reaches coconuts at 30 metres. Apparently, professional pickers are becoming a rare species, and coconut palms are bearing the burden. (Image from here)
I second the search whole-heartedly, not least because I am partial to the occasional elneer (tender coconut water). On a recent trip to Kerala, I was disturbed to learn that the best tender coconuts could be found only in neighbouring Tamil Nadu (and I actually drove across to have my share). In addition to the fact that most palms are privately owned, could labour shortage have anything to do with this?
[As an addendum, I would also support any project that ensures the delivery of fresh coconuts to deprived areas. In the parts where I live, we have on offer only dried and very sad-looking tender coconuts that come not from the south of India, but from the eastern coast. Not a patch on what I have had elsewhere.]
UPDATE: At least two of our readers have pointed us to inventions that are already extant in the art, which may be of use here - an Indian invention (patent no. 194566) here and a US invention available here. We hope someone in the ministry is reading this!
Elsewhere, if, like me, you have seen the early days of cable television in India, and are a movie buff to boot, you will surely be looking forward to that dashing cowboy superhero of yore with guntastic talents, Quick Gun Murugun. The movie soundtrack has already found itself a fan following, with some interesting performances by Raghu Dixit and that SaReGaMa veteran Vijay Prakash, but some feathers have been ruffled: Fox Studios and Sony Pictures had apparently forgotten to credit Sagar Desai, the music composer in the credits (and perhaps other people as well), as this rediff news item points out.
As an update to this, I have information that suggests Sagar Desai will be going to court on this matter, seeking to be credited/attributed for his music creations. No formal news on this is out, but if this is true, it is a rare opportunity to study how performer's rights issues are played out in India. We shall be all ears on this front.
Update: Sagar Desai's "Mind It" tactic worked, and he and Fox/Sony/PhatPhish have reached an out-of-court settlement in this matter. No money has changed hands, but credit has been given where it is due. See this story and this story.